BREEDERS’ CUP STARTS TOMORROW –
CALGARY CAT, eager gallop on Nov. 1 – Video number 16 on the Turf Sprint tab on the great web site
BREEDERS’ CUP NOTES FROM PETER MALLETT, on the track at Santa Anita
There was still a lot of moaning and groaning about the results of the post position draw going on today. The issues weren’t just the post and how that post might complicate the desired set up but how the young ones would react to standing in the gate while others in a twelve or fourteen runner field were being loaded.
Among those mostly happy with the draw was Mark Casse who was pleased with where Tepin would start in the Mile; post 5; Catch a Glimpse in the FM Turf, post 2; Valadorna in the Fillies, post 3; Keep Quiet in the Juv Turf, post 2; Victory to Victory in the Filly Turf, post 5. “Perfect for all,” he said; “except La Colonel in the Fillies Turf, post 14. She is going to need some luck; one thing about her is that she is extremely talented. I’ll let Florent (jockey Geroux) play it how he thinks he should. He’s one of the best.”
Mike Smith was upbeat about Arrogate’s 10 post draw in the Classic: “He’ll be forwardly placed and won’t have horses next to him on both sides. I should get away very well.” Trainer Baffert agreed: “It’s a long run to the first turn and it will get sorted out. I never like any draw until after I win. But it’s all right.”
Although I missed my Cal Chrome sighting again today I did get on the main track and crossed over to the turf course before being ushered off by an outrider…maybe tomorrow. But I did get my hands and feet into the main course.
The true grit that replaced the ProRide in 2012 is all gone; so is the less grit more sand of 2013; and so is most of the all-new El Segundo sand of 2014. The surface now is deep and my guess would be perfect for growing peas. But on a Magna operated race track we know the surface will be groomed to produce a faster than fast track for any big race day and there is nothing bigger than a Breeders’ Cup race day at Santa Anita.
The turf course Wednesday morning had a temporary rail setting of 30 feet, so the horses working were too close to have people near the outside apron of the course at the finish line. But standing farther back on the dirt course I was struck by how quiet the surface is. The horses seem to glide over the top; there are some divots but smaller ones than I have seen elsewhere. I’ll take Gary Steven’s word for it; ‘perfect’! Remember too that the inside 10 ft. of the course has not been used since October 8th.
A TURF Sprint Reminder: a Turf Sprint at Santa Anita is a one of a kind race, on a one of a kind course….thank, goodness. To quote myself (always a thrill) in Crushing the Cup 2016: “
But the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is a much different race at Santa Anita than at any other Breeders’ Cup site. Intended to be a race of six furlongs, few inner turf courses can accommodate that distance. At CD and at most other mile courses the race can only be run at five furlongs with the start in the backstretch and a run of about a quarter mile to the only turn. At Keeneland in 2015 the race was at five and a half furlongs.
At Santa Anita the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is a six and a half furlong race starting far up the downhill chute with a left turn at the bottom of the hill, a crossing of the dirt course and a sprint of nearly about three sixteenth mile to the finish. Yes they come down a hill, yes they cross the dirt and they run a furlong and a half farther than at other BC host sites.
Bill Mott added another piece of the puzzle: “They veer off to the right and the left and then down the hill.” He added: “I am not sure how drawing post 14 (for Celestine) will affect us.”
For obvious reasons I think it wise to limit play to entrants with a positive record on the course, ridden by a Santa Anita-wise rider; For example:
Ambitious Brew heads the list of horses with experience down the hill at Santa Anita. In nine starts on this puzzling course he has won five times, including his split of this year’s Eddie D. Mike Smith has ridden him in four of those five wins but was also aboard in the disappointing ’14 edition of this race when he was forced to come from well behind. His efforts in two turf routes at Del Mar can be considered as preparation for the return to Santa Anita but in each he ran a not too shabby 95 Beyer which he then matched again in the Eddie D. This is not a horse that will engage the leaders early in what will be 21; 43, opening splits but one that will be close-by and probing for a lane after crossing the dirt strip. If Mikey gets the lane this is the probable winner….if!
Holy Lute announced that he is back and ready to rumble with a impressive win in his split of the Eddie D. He registered a 101 Beyer in the process, the kind of figure that he hit when he was at his best in early ’15. If his Eddie D was more than just a one of, this horse is a serious threat. He is 1st or 2nd in 6 of his nine starts down the hill and those numbers are even more impressive if we forgive the three races in early ’16 when he was clearly not at his best. The two five furlong works following his win suggest that he has regained his connections’ confidence. He has stalked the speed in his best down the hill outings and can make a winning run after the leaders cross the dirt strip. Rider Theriot was up in the Eddy D win and has the mount again.
In his recent Update to the Crushing Zone, colleague Mazur makes this pair an auto exactor box. I will put them and two other runners ridden by Santa Anita riders with experience: Om and Obviously in a pick three or four and keep my fingers crossed. I got buried in 2014 when Bobby’s Kitten, favorite of mine back east but new to the course roared past 12 runners in the stretch for the win. All the other winners of the Turf Sprint at Santa Anita had previous experience down the hill. I’ll go with that!
More hot horses –